To many people, the thought of bringing a personal injury claim or any claim for that matter, is daunting so here we will explain what you should expect if you instruct a solicitor to represent you in relation to a personal injury claim. We’ll also provide some useful hints and tips to assist you throughout the process.
Useful information for a solicitor
If you are unfortunate enough to be involved in an incident and sustain a brain injury and you want to contact a firm of solicitors to help you, it is worth preparing some information and questions before beginning your enquiries. This will help the process to be as streamlined as possible and will make sure you obtain the information you need to ensure you are happy with the choices that you make.
It is often useful to make a chronology of events as soon after the accident as you feel you are able to. This can include your memory of the events running up to the incident, the incident itself and the immediate aftermath. You may also wish to make a note of the hospitals you have attended and a brief explanation of any treatment you have received. Of course, if there were any witnesses to the incident, we recommend recording their name and contact details somewhere safe. When you first speak with a solicitor, let them have all of this information.
Funding a personal injury claim
Next, we would consider how you will fund your personal injury claim. We know this is a stressful thought for most; however, a step by step approach can be used to make this element of your claim much less intimidating.
Firstly, check whether you had any insurance policies in place at the time of the accident. Home insurance, car insurance and travel insurance are just three examples of potential policies you may hold. Check the policy documents to see whether your cover includes legal expenses insurance (LEI) and if possible, confirm whether this LEI can be used for the type of incident you were involved in (e.g. road traffic collision, accident at work, accident in a public place etc.). This is often one of the first questions you will be asked by your solicitor when setting up your claim. Some policies allow only particular firms of solicitors to utilise your LEI but some will allow you to instruct a solicitor of your choice.
If you are still unsure about the terms of your cover, perhaps due to the wording of your policy, your solicitor will be happy to check this for you. If you did not have insurance of this nature at the time of the accident, just let your solicitor know and they will explain to you some alternative funding options. Often this will be a conditional fee agreement (CFA) which is more commonly known as a “no win no fee” agreement. Each firm will have slightly different terms and conditions but they should give you the opportunity to ask any questions you may have before entering into the agreement.
Will the required paperwork be difficult?
Once your file and the retainer is set up and your solicitor is ready to begin working on your behalf, they will send you various documents to check and approve. The paperwork may seem lengthy but a good solicitor will make sure that it is worded in a way which makes the correspondence easier to understand. However, if you are still a little confused, your solicitor will always be willing to talk you through it. It is important that you deal with correspondence at your earliest opportunity to assist your solicitor in processing your claim efficiently. Although your solicitor will do the majority of the work on your behalf, please understand that you may be asked to collate information and to complete certain forms. It is your personal injury claim and as the claimant, you are responsible for proving your case which your solicitor will assist you with throughout the course of your claim.
If you become overwhelmed at any point in the claim and consider it would be helpful to have the additional support of a friend or family member, with your authority, your solicitor will be happy to discuss the progress of your claim with them too. Although instructions will still be taken directly from you, it often puts clients at ease if they have someone to go through the process with at home who understands the position in full. You should always have the opportunity to ask questions, at every stage of the claim.
How long does it take to make a personal injury claim?
The length of your personal injury claim is dependent on a variety of factors including the evidence regarding the mechanism of the incident, the complexity of your injuries, whether there is any admission of liability or fault for your injuries and the speed at which a number of third parties are able to respond to your solicitor’s communications. This may include the Court, the Police and medical professionals.
What happens if I receive personal injury compensation?
If your claim is successful and you receive compensation for the injuries, losses and expenses you have suffered as a result of the incident, it is always worth considering the next steps to protect your future. Depending on the sum of your compensation, you may feel that you would benefit from assistance with managing the money and protecting your eligibility for state benefits. You may also wish to create or amend your Will to ensure it takes into account your change in circumstances and the compensation you receive. A good solicitor will always advise you about your options following settlement of your claim including asset management, creating a trust, conveyancing and Will writing to name but a few.
Personal Injury Claim Jargon Buster
During the course of your claim you may come across the following terms:
- Liability – The individual or company responsible for your accident must be identified and we must be able to establish that they were at fault for your injuries and associated losses. Fault can be proven through negligence, breach of contract, breach of statutory duty, or a combination of these. We may need to collate evidence from you, the defendant and external experts to prove fault.
- Vicarious liability – When an employer is responsible for the negligent acts of their employees.
- Negligence – A defendant is negligent when their actions (or the actions of their employees) fall below the standard expected of a reasonably competent individual in their position and as a result of their actions you suffer an injury.
- Contributory negligence – When it is alleged that you caused or contributed to the accident and that you should be found partly liable for the accident as well as the defendant. To find out more, read our article about causation at: www.braininjurygroup.co.uk/news/contributory-negligence-affect-brain-injury-claims/
- Causation – An established link between the accident and the injuries sustained.
- Quantum – The overall monetary value of your claim
Produced by Ellie Taylor of Irwin Mitchell
Ellie Taylor is a Paralegal in the Sheffield Serious Injury team. The team specialise in spinal cord injuries and brain injury. Ellie has worked at Irwin Mitchell for 6 years and is currently working towards qualifying as a Legal Executive.
About Irwin Mitchell
Brain Injury Group member firm Irwin Mitchell are a national law firm whose solicitors work hard to make things easier for their clients and their family. Over the past 2 years they have helped clients recover more than £1 billion in compensation, but this is only part of the story, their solicitors also help clients access the rehabilitation, medical care and support needed to achieve the best recovery possible.
How can Brain Injury Group help?
Brain Injury Group is a network of approved personal injury solicitors with brain injury expertise. Moreover, our member firms have the complex injury experience to get the best possible rehabilitation and compensation for brain injuries.
Brain injury rehabilitation is important; to us, to our members, to you and towards getting the best outcome. We can help get you that best outcome. Get in touch to find out more from our brain injury experts.
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- Call us on 0800 612 9660 or 03303 112541
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